SEATTLE, Washington — In Ghana, the maternal mortality rate has been declining since 2011. However, the rate is still high at 308 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Many pregnant women do not have adequate access to health care services due to a lack of trained health care providers, a prevalent lack of healthcare coverage and a lack of adequate transportation to reach hospitals. However, mobile technology in Ghana offers ways to improve the health of mothers and newborn babies in the sub-Saharan country.
Mobile Technology for Community Health
Back in 2010, the organization Mobile Technology for Community Health and the Ghana Health Service started an initiative that allowed pregnant women to receive voice recorded messages on cell phones that provided them with weekly updates about the different stages in their pregnancy. Within the first three years, more than 11,000 women had signed up for the program. Now more than a decade later, the initiative continues to save lives while educating mothers and children in the country.
While Ghana is still a developing country, it has the highest mobile penetration in West Africa. As of the end of 2019, the sub-Saharan country had 55% mobile adoption. This allows programs such as Mobile Technology for Community Health to spread throughout Ghana, reaching 170 districts. In a recent study, the National Institute of Health estimated that the program could save nearly 60,000 maternal and infant lives within the next decade.
Two tools aid maternal outlooks
Tech developers and government officials have constructed mobile technology in Ghana to have two components to help prospective mothers. One component is the Mobile Midwife. It is an application that allows pregnant women to receive educational information about how to maintain proper maternal health. The second tool, Client Data Application, assists front-line workers in tracking patient records. It thereby facilitates the delivery of medical care to mothers in Ghana and children under five years old. For women who are unable to have a personal phone, the system also allows for a toll-free option by dialing in with a simple code.
One physician working with the Ghanaian Ministry of Health to track the maternal deaths and report the cause using mobile phones said that such technologies have enabled healthcare providers to maintain records even in areas with minimal healthcare infrastructure. With too many pregnant or postpartum women having little access to hospitals and clinics, mobile technology in Ghana can and has saved the lives of many mothers and their children.
Since 2010, the maternal mortality rate has declined from 339 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 308 per 100,000.
The Ghanaian government continues to support the dissemination of mobile technology in Ghana and invest in rural health care systems. Due to these major factors, among other quality-of-life improvements, the maternal mortality rate appears to remain on its downward decline. This positive trend has given hope that the country may be able to reach its goal of 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.
– Shavantay Minnis